Emergence of stand-up paddle boarding encourages local sports stores

By Eric Oliver - Enterprise Staff

July 9, 2015

OCONOMOWOC — A new sport has transformed the sports recreation market in the last five years.

Pat Aasen, a manager at Sherpers, 225 W. Wisconsin Ave., and Steve Loehner, a manager at Clear Water Outdoor, 803 Genesee Street, Delafield, have seen the rise of stand-up paddle boarding firsthand.

“Depending on who is doing the survey they’re saying it’s the fastest growing outdoor activity in the Midwest,” Loehner said.

Loehner said paddle boarding is gaining popularity because of its varying intensity. Paddle boards have surpassed kayaks to be the most popular items in the Delafield shop.

Aasen has also seen an increase in paddle board sales in Oconomowoc, but said kayaks are still just as popular.

To increase popularity and attract new customers, Sherpers offers a variety of demo days, where they take models down to the lakefront and offer the opportunity to try out the product before a purchase.

Sherpers also offers kayak, canoe and paddle board rentals as well.

The local difference

One of the things separating these stores from big-box alternatives is the ability to retain stock after a seasonal switch.

Aasen said the store owner frequently stores excess summer stock on the floor above the storefront, allowing products to be accessed year round. She added the store doesn’t frequently suffer from a lack of customers because of a season change.

Loehner mirrored Aasen’s comments on a returning customer base. However, he added poor weather can suppress sales, calling this past spring disappointing.

The ability to cater to customer needs and to connect to the customer base and develop recurring relationships have also separated these stores from the big-box ones.